Motherhood comes with some really great days and, of course, some horribly challenging days. Sometimes the challenging days bleed into each other, making it pretty damn difficult to see the forest through the trees. It's pretty normal for parents to silently ponder what life would've been like without kids (or hide in the bathroom) when it all becomes a little too much. I've been there, and I know parenting can be overwhelming, but there are things you can tell yourself when you just don't want to parent anymore that might help the moments pass by a little easier.
Despite wanting (and constantly trying) to be the best mother to my children that I can possibly be, there have been times when I know I've failed them. Whether it's during my battles with anxiety and depression, or after deliveries when postpartum blues ruled my life, I think back to the mistakes I've made that leave me feeling like I shouldn't never decided to be a mother in the first place. Even writing that sentence leaves me with a twinge of shame, because failing is hard and defeat is hard and thinking you've let down the people who matter most to you is, well, hard. However, it's also inevitable. You can't raise children and not mess up. The longer I'm in this parenting game, the more I know this to be truest fact of raising other human beings.
Frustrated feelings that completely overwhelm you are normal, and the days when I literally can't hear another argument or pick up another toy are inevitable. When faced with those situations, I try to remember all the things I'm about to tell you; things every parent should tell themselves when parenting is the literal last thing they feel like doing. Also, massive hugs.
"This Really Will Pass"
It doesn't feel like it in the moment but, no matter how hard it feels, try to remember all time passes eventually. In five minutes, will this massive stress still be as all-consuming? An hour? How about a day? Even when I feel I'm at my lowest point, a few days later I look back and realize it actually wasn't that bad. Even if it was, I got through it and may even be a better mother for it.
"I'm Not A Horrible Mother"
You may feel like it and you may whisper it beneath your breath and you may tell yourself over and over again. Hell, your kids might even swear you're the worst. However, I promise you're not a "bad mom." If you're keeping your children safe and you're not intentionally harming them and you're feeding them and clothing them and giving them unconditional love, you're not a failed parent.
The only way to get past this feeling of complete failure, is to look yourself in the mirror and say otherwise. You need to overwrite the negative. I'm sure most mothers feel this way at some point, because parenting is hard and draining and emotionally taxing, but it doesn't mean you're actually terrible. It just means you're a human being.
When I'm stressed to the max, I forget to breathe. As easy as it sounds, my body revolts and I may go into full panic mode. My partner sometimes pulls me aside to help with breathing exercises that I also practice on my own. Breathing is hard. It's even harder when parenting is kicking your ass.
"I Can Try Again"
No matter what the problem — if you've yelled too much at your kids, ruined dinner again, or forgot to do something they counted on — take those aforementioned breaths, then be gentle on yourself. You can calm your voice and apologize to your children about your shouting. You can get take-out. You can do the thing you forgot to do another day (or even at another hour of the same day).
Most things in life can all be fixed, so don't be so hard on yourself. You're probably doing better than you think.
"My Children Love Me No Matter What"
The love of a child truly is unconditional. There have been times I haven't deserved a bit of it and yet, there they are, arms wide open. They're tolerant, forgiving and resilient. While you may feel like whatever you're doing is the actual worst, they probably still think you're a rockstar.
"I Am Human"
Reminder: you're human and humans are pre-determined to make mistakes. Lots of them. It's how we're wired. If we don't make mistakes, we can't learn and grow and evolve.
While you might feel like you're not cut out for this mom thing right now, remember a lot of us have been there, too. We're all a work in progress and your kids will intuitively understand that.
"I Forgive Myself"
The most important thing you can tell yourself when you feel you can't take anymore, is that you forgive yourself. Along with making those very human mistakes comes some internal reflection on how to move past the hardships and be better and stronger than before. I've certainly been on my knees in tears, wishing things could feel just a little bit easier. It's after those moments, when the dust settles, that I gain clarity over all I'd done wrong, and all I'm determined to get right from then on.
Parenting is hard. There isn't a cheat sheet or instructions. You have to learn how to get through the lows as gracefully as you manage the highs. Above all else, cut yourself some slack. Everyone makes mistakes and feels this way at some point, whether they admit it or not. So take a breath, resolve to fight, and go hug those babies before they're grown. Chances are, they won't see the dark; they usually cling to the light.